April 2007 could go down as a milestone in the development of alternative power in the United States thanks to a pair of new rule changes pertaining to the construction of electricity transmission lines.
The U.S. Department of Energy's declaration last week of high-priority "energy corridors" in the Southwest and mid-Atlantic regions, coupled with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's approval of a new California policy on transmission financing, removed two potential stumbling blocks to the construction of new high-capacity power lines.
With yesterday's counting of absentee ballots that pushed Urban Hirschey ahead of five-term incumbent Thomas Rienbeck, the three towns where commercial wind-development policy became something of a local referendum have sent a loud and clear message to wind farm developers and their rabid supporters: wind politics is local. ...Hammond resident Brooke Stark assessed the town election and why the incumbent board was rejected in the Nov. 4 story in the Times: "They really have done a lot," she said. "But I think they got complacent and were not interested in educating the community about something they'd already made up their minds about. They wanted the wind law to go forward and that was that. People got fed up with that, and every time we felt that our voices were being shut down, it provided more impetus to get active."
I'm seeing more and more evidence of a nascent anti-wind movement. And, naturally enough, an anti-anti-wind backlash.
There is also the need to overcome outdated perceptions about different forms of energy, such as “coal is dirty”, “nuclear power is unsafe” and wind and wave can “save the world” (without doing any environmental damage). These perceptions are political bunkum, and it is depressing to see the Liberal Democrats, and even the Conservatives, pandering to such misinformation for cheap gain. Expect to hear lots of nonsense about Chernobyl, a nuclear plant that would never have seen the light of day in the West, even at that time.
How can you look the people of Maine straight in the eye and tell them that they are living in the Saudi Arabia of Wind, when you know that this same line is being told to residents of at least 14 other states?
Also filed under [
This demanding work is carried out by the MoD at no charge to the developer. Since the beginning of this rush for wind the MoD have received about 4500 applications and this year it is running at between 70 and 100 per month. They all have to be assessed, and many of these will be re-assessed so the work is enormous.
The Block Island wind farm has new life. Both houses of the General Assembly passed a law this week that call for the Public Utilities Commission to revisit a modified power agreement between Deepwater Wind and National Grid.
During the past few weeks, the developers of these proposed wind energy generation facilities, Babcock and Brown and PPM, have made statements at public meetings and in the media insinuating that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife and environmental groups have vetted and approved their plans to install more than 500 wind turbines ...Nothing could be further from the truth. ...USFWS, TPWD, the Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defense have all sent letters either to the developer or to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, pointing out potential problems or requesting a full environmental assessment prior to construction.
Also filed under [
We applaud any effort to offer incentives to increase the use of renewable and alternative energy sources to power Michigan.
But we hope the 25-percent goal can be reached by offering incentives, not by issuing mandates. The cheapest source of energy in the United States is coal. For the time being, at least, renewable sources of energy are a more expensive alternative. It would not bode well for economic development in Michigan if the state had astronomical energy costs.
Mass Audubon recently abandoned its plan to install a 200-foot wind turbine at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary due to grave concerns about noise, risks to resident wildlife and migratory birds, and potential disruption to valuable habitat. Does Mass Audubon's extensive review and decision to reject a project half the size of the town of Wellfleet's reflect the machinations of an irresponsible minority or a principled decision based upon a thorough and unbiased review?
Contrary to popular belief - promoted by well-funded industrial wind turbine facility developers - wind turbines do not reduce the need for fossil fuel powered electric generators and do not reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
Even at sites known for their breeze, wind is intermittent, variable and undependable. As a result, utility companies must rely on dependable power sources, usually powered by fossil fuel.
Magical interviews science editor and writer Eric Rosenbloom for answer to some of Cape Wind's pesky and misleading promises.
I simply can't get past the feeling the wool's being pulled over our eyes by FPL.
I base this on gut reaction and online research. From what I can see, this project has much more going for it in PR/political/financial terms than anything remotely to do with energy production.
Why? The site is way too small to offer any sensible economic advantage. Yes, it might tell FPL whether wind power along Florida's coast is viable, but I suspect they know it isn't already. A Department of the Interior study puts all of Florida's coastline firmly in the "marginal" category.
Even if turbines did produce meaningful amounts of electricity, experience in Europe (about 10 years ahead of us in energy policy terms) suggests it may be more trouble than it's worth. ...So if it's not useful, practical or financially rewarding, why on earth is FPL so hell-bent on building turbines here?
My guess is that with federal tax credits, tax write-offs for depreciation and so on, it may actually be more lucrative for utilities not to produce power.
The news last week that Florida Power & Light has abandoned a quest to site wind turbines on St. Lucie County public beach land must have come as a relief to some.
To the rest of us, it provided more questions than answers.
Why, for instance, would FPL now subject itself to even more environmental scrutiny on state-owned land? Wouldn't that put back their timetable even more than using county-owned sites?
And why is FPL only looking at a grand total of nine windmills here?
Look at their other wind farm operations in Texas and California, where turbines number in the hundreds or thousands. ...I still don't get it. Our tiny project will never generate enough juice to make a dent in demand. Folks in St. Lucie aren't happy at using public land for windmills. Yes, we might find out that Florida wind is strong enough, but the scale is all wrong even if that's the case.
Perhaps FPL is right. Perhaps the majority of St. Lucians could care less if the company wants to play at windmills on its own land.
But I have to wonder if the survey questions weren't just a little, shall we say, skewed?
It's well-known in market research circles that how you ask the questions can be as important as the questions themselves.
FPL's survey, for instance, made no distinction as to where phone respondents lived the island or inland? I suspect few of the "yes" votes came from Hutchinson Island.
FPL also didn't seem to want to hear from people who rarely vote in general elections. And they didn't bother to find out exactly what 20 percent of the "yes" voters meant by being only "somewhat" supportive.
This morning's St. Lucie Board of County Commission meeting could see the end of the Florida Power & Light wind turbine project on Hutchinson Island.
But don't bet on it.
Rumor has it some commissioners would prefer to "punt" and delay a decision until they have more information. ...The wind turbine opposition comes from a multitude of angles: the 40-story height and appearance of the towers and their whirling blades wider than a jumbo jet; the possibly lethal effects on wildlife (especially birds); the unpleasant "strobe" effects spinning turbine blades tend to have on those living nearby; the noise that's been described as like a wrapped brick in a clothes dryer; reduction in property values; the possible safety threat to the nuclear plant from what's attractively called "blade throw," should one ever come off in high winds. Hey, it's happened.
It's unfortunate that it took a group of citizens to push Environment Minister John Gerretsen out of the approval process for a wind farm on Wolfe Island. He should have bowed out long before this week - a mere three days before he was to make a final ruling on the windmill mega-project proposed by Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. ...When business and community interests collide, as they do now on Wolfe Island, citizens should not feel that campaign contributions or corn roasts may be giving their opponents any kind of real or perceived advantage with their political representatives. Gerretsen should have dismissed himself from the process long before this. It's unfortunate his own constituents forced him to do so.
Apparently, the enjoyment of million year-old mountain ranges is an indulgence for the airy-fairy crowd, whereas the "necessity" of cyber-porn and bug zappers and floodlit lawn ornaments is a problem to be engaged by serious people.
Now these out-of-state wind energy corporations have discovered that our mountains hold an equally unique and valuable wind resource. These people describe how the Allegheny Front above Keyser is so perfectly suited for their industrial wind farm. ...There are power lines in the immediate vicinity to connect the turbines to the grid. The area is thinly settled so they don't have to worry about people living next to the turbines, and land is relatively cheap. Most local people were probably not aware of this (myself included) and now we are getting little offers of money to let this project go on.
If we presume somebody has done the sums to calculate the cost to the environment of concrete, steel production and transport, why are not these numbers at the forefront of proposals?